General Paediatrics refers to the provision of expert diagnostic services, and the treatment and management of conditions affecting children and young people aged from birth to the age of 16. General Paediatricians are based both in the hospital and the community.
General Paediatrics is one of the many areas of Paediatrics, others also include Neonatology (the care of newborn babies), Community paediatrics (caring for children with either physical disabilities or behavioural/social issues, in community-based roles) and sub-specialities such as Paediatric Cardiology (the care of children with heart conditions).
The field of Paediatrics acknowledges that children are quite different to adults in their physiology and so therefore often need to be treated quite differently to adults, even in situations where they have the same general conditions.
General Paediatric referrals come from primary care providers such as General Practitioners (GPs) - family doctors - and GP as well as community clinics. These referrals generally relate to acute conditions, chronic and/or complex conditions, and developmental issues.
Acute conditions affecting children and young people
A condition is referred to as 'acute' where it comes on suddenly and (normally) lasts only a short period of time but also requires urgent medical attention. These can include common infections which affect children, such as coughs, colds and ear infections, as well as other more serious conditions including chickenpox, measles, mumps and rubella. If they are really sick and unwell, they may need to be seen and or admitted to hospital locally or at the Children’s Hospitals at Westmead or Randwick.
Chronic / complex conditions affecting children and young people
Although chronic medical conditions are a lot more common in the older population, a small number of Australian children have chronic illnesses. Conditions are considered 'chronic' if they have been present for 6 months or longer, and they generally require complex care management, often requiring a multidisciplinary approach involving a number of medical specialists.
Chronic conditions that can affect children and young people can include for example…
- Allergic diseases.
- Cerebral palsy.
- Inflammatory bowel disease e.g. Crohn's disease.
- Cystic fibrosis.
- Musculoskeletal conditions.
- Conditions affecting hearing and sight.
Developmental and behavioural issues affecting children and young people
These include issues / conditions such as...
- ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
- Behavioural difficulties.
- Developmental delay.
- Digestive / feeding difficulties (including constipation).
- Learning difficulties.
- Sleep issues (including bedwetting).
- Weight / obesity issues.